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10,000 Lakes Festival: A colorful tradition

Getting ready for 10KLF, Pinky Teixeira hangs tapestries at her Namoste Imports stand near the rear of the Soo Pass concert bowl.

Every year, the 10,000 Lakes Festival draws music lovers from as far away as Alaska, New York and California -- and sometimes, even from across the ocean.

But many of its most loyal attendees are drawn from Detroit Lakes itself.

Deanna Sinclair, a longtime Detroit Lakes resident, has been a loyal festival-goer for five of its first six incarnations. She missed the first year, but has been going "every year since then," and fully intends to be there when the event kicks off tonight as well.

"I just think it's a fun atmosphere, with great music," she said earlier this week. "The first time I went I brought my son out there -- he was taking guitar lessons, and we went out there to see Maroon 5 and John Mayer.

"I thought it would be kind of inspiring to see some up-and-coming bands (though both of those acts have since gone on to chart-topping success)."

After that, she was hooked. "I kind of fell in love with the whole atmosphere -- very laid back and music centered."

Eventually, she also became a volunteer for a couple of local fund-raising efforts.

"I got involved with doing some volunteering for the Humane Society -- they help out in the VIP food area, and 10KLF donates (the cost of their labor) back to the Humane Society," she said.

Then Sinclair, who was a member of the local school board at the time, became involved with another effort to raise funds for the Detroit Lakes High School band program, through the Rex Foundation (a charitable organization started by the late Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead fame).

"They raise about $1,800 (for the DLHS band program) each year," she noted. "So now I go out there both because I love the music and to support a couple of good local causes."

Sinclair brings her children along to enjoy the music as well.

"I've had both of them out there two or three times apiece in the last few years," she said. "This year we're looking forward to seeing the Dave Matthews Band -- I've been a fan since before he even had an album out. My brother-in-law gave me a bootleg tape of one of his concerts from before anyone even knew who he was."

Her husband, Jim Sinclair, is also a loyal DMB fan, and will be attending the festival for the first time this year.

But Sinclair is also a fan of many of the other bands as well, including Thursday night headliner Wilco and Frazee's own Tim Sparks, who will perform at 1:45 p.m. Friday on one of the smaller stages.

"There are some big acts on the main stage, but they've got all kinds of bands playing on the other stages as well," Sinclair said.

But she has never taken advantage of the camping facilities there, preferring to travel back and forth from her DL home instead.

"I'm really there for the music," she said.

One loyal attendee from Detroit Lakes who has enjoyed the camping opportunities at the site is Joey Piemonte.

"This will be my third year camping out there," he said. "It's just amazing the people you meet out there. I've never had any problems at the campsite -- it's just made for having a great time. Everything is just perfect (for camping) at this time of year."

He also has found the atmosphere at the campground to be much more laid back and friendly than at 10KLF's sister festival, WE Fest (held at the same site).

"The people are gentler," he said.

Piemonte, who is a bartender at Zorbaz, said he got started attending the festival when he was asked to tend bar out there -- and now he's a loyal customer.

"I can't even look at a flier (for each year's festival) without seeing three or four bands I want to hear," he said. "Obviously, everyone wants to hear Dave Matthews. I've been listening to him for years."

A Dave Matthews concert often resembles a concert festival in itself, with people coming across the country and camping out to see him, Piemonte said.

"Finally, we'll be able to see the kind of excitement he brings (first-hand). Add in 60-plus other bands, and... it's going to be a great time."

Piemonte said he's also looking forward to seeing all the Minnesota bands that will be performing this year, such Mason Jennings and hip hop artist Atmosphere, who will both be performing on Thursday.

He's also excited to hear a band that's relatively unknown in this area, "Pretty Lights," which performs live on the Field Stage tonight at 11:30 p.m.

"Their music is like electronic, but not really computerized," he said. "It's called trip hop. It should be interesting."

The music is also the main draw for Beth Pridday, who like Sinclair, missed the first year but has been a loyal fan ever since.

"I love the music, I love the social atmosphere of it," she said. "There's a lot of wide open space out there where you can stand around and talk and meet your friends. The music is a mix of mellow and funk and alternative -- my kind of music."

Pridday also feels that the festival crowds have become less and less youth-centric. "Last year there were a lot more people in my age group -- 40-plus -- going out there."

But while the music is the main attraction, it isn't the only one for Pridday. "I love the shopping. I won't lie to you -- I've gotten some fabulous jewelry out there. There's some very fun stuff."

Pridday said she's noticed that the vendor atmosphere has changed over the years, becoming more diverse as the size of the crowds has increased.

"The range of music has really grown as well," she said. "There's definitely music out there that more people are aware of -- bands that have their cult followings, and appeal to a broader audience. And the food's great."

Though she doesn't camp at the site, Pridday has spent some time volunteering at both the VIP food service area and the Chamber's information booth.

"The people are really social and friendly -- they're from a lot of different states, and some of them are well traveled," she said. Pridday even assisted one festival attendee from Japan who had locked the keys in his rental car and needed some help retrieving them.

Though Pridday says that the Dave Matthews Band is likely to be "a big draw" -- her husband is flying home early from a business trip this week just to see him -- "I'm looking forward to the whole festival."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454